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To Sam

Confidentiality at school

Hi Sam,

Recently i discovered that my mum had been contacted by my school to talk about my eating (i restrict my food intake) this had happened weeks ago but no one told me and even now concerns have not been mentioned, had i not seen the email i would have been clueless as to their concerns. I feel violated, angry and exposed particularly as the email mentioned that the school would have staff secretly watching me at lunch time.

So my question is, is it okay for school to contact my parents without talking to me before or after the contact has been made? (I go to a private school so will the rules be different?) And if my school has done something wrong then how can i make a complaint?

Thank you,


Ask Sam


Hi there,

To keep something confidential means that your information is going to be kept private. When you’re talking to someone who works with you, they should follow a confidentiality policy. This policy should make it clear what can and can’t be kept private. It’s important that this is explained to you before you decide what to say.

You may feel let down when adults are talking about you without you knowing. It’s natural to want to question any decisions made about you. It's good practice for you to be told what concerns or information is being shared and why this is happening. However, it is possible for your school to choose not to tell you if that may put you at greater risk. But you do have the right to ask them about their decisions.

If you think your school should have done things differently then it’s okay to tell them that. The best way is usually to do this is in writing by letter or email. If you can, put into words what you think they could have done differently and and you can send this to the head teacher. They should take this seriously.

All schools have a legal responsibility to protect and to take reasonable steps to care for their pupils. This is called a 'duty of care' and it applies to all schools including private schools. It’s good to remember that your school will want to help you and that often the best way to do this is being open and honest.

Restricting food can be dangerous and may damage your health so it’s important that adults are able to support and get extra help, like seeing your doctor.

You can talk more about school and eating with a Childline counsellor. Our confidentiality promise explains what we can and can’t keep between you and us.

Thank you for choosing to share this with me, take care.


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